Rethink Color: Maintaining Your Roots at Home

If you color your hair – whether at a salon or at home – you inevitably get roots as your hair grows. Some people love them and even accentuate them. And lots of the chicest variations on ombre hair color are essentially grown-out roots. But if you don’t love them, they are painless to erase, as is the fading that is part of having your hair colored.

If you wish to keep your roots colored, here are some tips that can help you maintain your roots at home:

1. After coloring, wait for 72 hours before shampooing.

When coloring hair, the cuticle layer is opened, making it easy for color to penetrate the hair shaft. When you wash your hair too soon, this cuticle layer could still be opened, leading to your color being washed down the drain.

The cuticle layer takes up to three days to fully close, so the longer you wait before shampooing your hair after coloring, the more the hair pigment will have to soak into the cuticle. This will help the color last longer and prevent roots from showing too early.

2. Wash hair less often.

Shampooing more frequently than needed strips your hair of its natural oils that moisturize the hair, causing dryness and dullness. In doing so, you also wash away a little bit of your hair dye every time. Try washing your hair every other day or even two to three times a week to keep color on lock. It’s not necessary to wash more often than that unless you’re working out a lot and sweating every day, or if you always go out to a place where there’s dirt and pollution.

If you find that your color is fading fast, but your hair is oily and greasy, causing you to need a wash more often – mix your shampoo with conditioner. This will help the shampoo become less abrasive, and it can help keep your hair color longer.

3. Use sulfate-free hair products.

Do you know that shampoo is also considered a detergent in a technical sense? Thinking about using a detergent for your hair sounds harsh and damaging, but it’s what most shampoos that lather do to the hair. Most shampoos and other personal care products contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), which is a type of anionic detergent. This ingredient is added to help produce a foaming effect to shampoos, conditioners, and other types of products you use to clean and maintain your body.

To prevent your hair color from fading too fast and from your roots appearing quickly, try using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. There are great options for all hair types, whether it’s frizzy, curly, straight, or even thin.

4. Be smart with using shampoos.

You can address color loss with shampoo. There are shampoo formulas that have color care and maintenance formulations.

If you dyed your hair blonde, the hair dye lifted your hair’s base color with bleach. It used more processing and more chemicals compared to dyeing it at a darker shade. It makes the hair more porous and prone to breakage, making it appear duller and brassier (yellowish). To maintain your fake blonde hair, you need a purple-based shampoo to correct brassiness. If your hair is dyed dark blonde light brown to look like a brunette, a blue toning shampoo can help neutralize any unwanted shades of red or orange from appearing.

Lastly, if your hair dye is on the dark brown to black side with red undertones, a green shampoo will help prevent the tingy red or rusty undertones from emerging. Some people like it, but if you don’t, treating it with a shampoo that deposits a controlled amount of green dye gets rid of the red.

5. Add some dye to your conditioner.

If you’re rocking a brighter look like purple, pink, green, or blue, try adding a little bit of dye to your conditioner when washing hair. Using color-depositing conditioners will do wonders to keep your colored hair vibrant. It slightly re-dyes your hair every time you wash to keep it looking fresh until your roots grow out.

6. Avoid using hot water when shampooing.

Though hot showers are amazing, it’s not so great for your hair. When washing with hot water, the hair cuticle is opened, allowing the color to wash out while you’re shampooing and conditioning.

To avoid seeing your hair color go down the drain, shampoo using slightly warm water. Then, rinse it with cold water after conditioning. The warm water will allow the shampoo and conditioner to cleanse and penetrate, while the cold water helps seal in moisture from the conditioner to prevent color fading.

7. Use leave-in treatments to protect hair color.

Colored and chemically-treated hair needs more protection and hydration from the sun than natural hair. A protective leave-in treatment will help keep your hair smooth, healthy, and hydrated. It’s also essential to find one with UV protection so the sun won’t fade color hair. The roots can get overexposed when you’re under the sun, making your hair color fade faster.

Alternatively, you can use hairsprays and styling products with UV protection if you don’t want to buy leave-in treatments.

8. When using hot hair tools, use heat protectant spray.

Heat can strip away color and moisture and lead to hair damage. To prevent this from happening, use a heat protectant spray before styling and drying. Use the lowest setting possible to avoid the high heat from removing color from your hair.

9. Avoid pools and sun as much as possible.

Chlorine is a chemical bleaching agent that cleans pools and can definitely strip color from the hair. It can make blonde hair susceptible to turning greenish, while darker shades may look dull, dried out, and lackluster.

If you’re going to be in a pool under the sun, wet down your hair, then seal in the water using a conditioner or hair serum before you go into the pool. This will help save your color from being drawn out by chlorine.

10. When touching up, fix only the roots.

Weeks after coloring, you may want to touch up the roots. In doing so, make sure you touch up the roots only and not recolor all your hair, which some people do. Since the base color for roots isn’t the same as the already-colored part of your hair, they won’t match if you recolor them. Also, color on top of color can flatten the look and texture of your hair. Overdyed roots can cause dark shades to go darker than they’re supposed to, and if it’s blonde, recoloring often causes breakage.

As a fix, it’s best to touch up only the roots and leave the rest of your hair as long as you can.

11. Pick the right color.

When touching up your roots, it’s best to go lighter, especially around the face. Otherwise, it will start looking really dark because the hairs around your face are like facial hair, and the colors are absorbed differently.

Your choice of hair color also affects how often it has to be touched up. If you’re a busy person, going pale blonde from being a natural brunette can be more high-maintenance than is ideal. Red fades the most quickly, so it’s also not great for the extra busy person.

How to Fix Fading Colors on Roots

If you’re looking at your roots and you feel like you have to fix them, just do it! If it makes you feel good, there should be no stopping you. Here are some ways on how to fix your roots at home:

If you have subtle roots showing…

If your hair has grown out and the roots are looking pretty subtle, your dye job is a gentle change from your natural color. If you’re coloring tiny gray roots or if you’ve gone from brunette to another shade, you can use root cover-up sprays and powders. A powder is easier to control in small areas than a spray, so choose according to your needs. Pick a shade that best matches your current hair color and apply it conservatively.

If you have a visible line of demarcation…

If your roots have gone a lot longer, covering them with cover-up sprays and powders won’t work for you. You need an at-home permanent dye. Make sure you touch up the color only where it is needed. If you dyed your hair at home, use a little more of the same product. But if you got your hair done at a salon, choose a shade closest to your current color. If you have trouble deciding, you can reach out to your stylist so they can guide you.

If you have highlights…

People are so used to seeing a little root with highlights, so you must leave it alone. Bleaching it again is hard to do well, even by professionals. And it’s damaging to the hair. If you DIY, you might end up breaking off your hair. To correct the tone, you can simply use a color-maintaining shampoo. Blonde highlights get brassy over time, so using a purple conditioner helps maintain it.

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